Researchers discuss revised Food Guide Pyramid and what it will mean for the food industry


Only two days after the Federal Register is released, renowned scientists discuss the revised Food Guide Pyramid and its implications on the food industry

Las Vegas, NV July 16, 2004 On the heels of the Federal Register notice for the revised Food Guide Pyramid, The Dairy Council of California sponsored a thought-provoking forum titled, "The revised Food Guide Pyramid: What Will It Mean to the Food Industry" at the Institute of Food Technologists' Annual Meeting and Food Expo.

During the forum attended by over 140 audience members, a panel of experts discussed the latest information regarding the food guide revisions, reviewed the importance of having a food guide system, and helped the food industry understand the implications of the potential revisions and how to apply the new food guide system. Dr. Eric Hentges, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), commenced the forum by presenting the latest news from the Federal Register Notice that was published this week regarding the revisions. He noted that although over 80 percent of people recognize the pyramid, two-thirds are overweight or obese. According to Hentges, people should be prepared for the revised guidelines to be based on a more individualized model than we have seen in the past, allowing people to make choices within the food guide system based on their individual lifestyles.

The current Food Guide Pyramid graphic is perceived as a one size fits all approach. The CNPP hopes that the new or revised graphic will help motivate consumers to put the food intake patterns into practice in order to improve their food choices. To accomplish this CNPP plans to develop and implement a system that includes focused messages and individualized educational tools. It is envisioned that the system will be delivered through multiple channels including print, internet and the media. (1)

"Optimizing and maintaining health involves selecting foods from all food groups to obtain the range of nutrients needed," said Dr. Hentges. "The proposed revised food guide system seeks to accomplish this by enabling people to base their choices on their personal dietary needs."

Forum speaker Dr. Louise Berner, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, reminded the food industry that consumption patterns need to be considered in any type of dietary intervention. Whole foods should be used as the core in planning meals and snacks for their inherent nutrient density, optimal nutrient ratios and bioavailability of those nutrients.

A food guide system is important for the purposes of education, food planning for groups and subpopulations, and to provide an infrastructure upon which to systematically base food choices, noted forum speaker Dr. Marilyn A. Swanson, University of Mississippi.

"As the child obesity rate continues to reach new heights, the Food Guide Pyramid can play a vital role in teaching children how to make appropriate dietary decisions," said Swanson. Although the Food Guide Pyramid is a great foundation for one's nutritional needs, Dr. Susan T. Borra cautioned the audience that food choices will need to be further tailored based on an individual's specific goals, disease risk, lifestyle and other factors.

The food industry has always played a lead role in educating consumers about the Food Guide Pyramid through package labels and other marketing efforts. As the revised Food Guide Pyramid makes its debut, Dr. Guy Johnson, Johnson Nutrition Solutions LLC, concluded the forum by telling the industry that they can continue to help facilitate the use of the Food Guide Pyramid through education/marketing materials which aim to inform the public of the food groups represented and of the appropriate portion sizes. This presents a strategic opportunity for the nutrition community to work in partnership with the food industry.

"Once the new food guide system is finalized, it will be important for industry, academics, and the government to move forward, collaborate, and communicate the messages to consumers," added Dr. Hentges, CNPP.

Following the five presentations, the audience had an opportunity to ask the panel members questions and participate in lively discussion about the Food Guide Pyramid revisions and issues surrounding their implementation.

The USDA Food Guide Pyramid was initially introduced in 1992 as a tool to help Americans use the Dietary Guidelines to choose foods for a healthy diet. In addition to being used by nutrition educators, teachers, and the media it is commonly used by the food industry on packaging, marketing materials and advertising to show the contribution of specific food products to an overall healthy diet. With the advance of nutritional research, evidence for the benefits of highly individualized diets, and the development of Dietary Reference Intakes for all nutrients it proved necessary to revise and update the Food Guide Pyramid to reflect this new information.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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